As Carter Kieboom rounded the bases following his game-tying homer in the fifth inning - this on the heels of Victor Robles’ solo homer the previous inning, that on the heels of Juan Soto’s three-run blast the inning prior to that - Davey Martinez paused to consider what the three youngest players on the Nationals roster had just accomplished.
“I sat there, and I go, ‘20, 21, 21: That’s pretty cool,’ ” Martinez said. “I started thinking, ‘Has that been done before?’ “
The answer: No, it has not. Which made Sunday’s developments at Nationals Park legitimately historic.
Soto, Robles and Kieboom are the first trio of teammates 21 or younger to each homer in a major league game, according to Elias Sports.
“That’s amazing,” Soto said. “Like last year, everything I do and every record I break, I feel amazing and pretty happy with that. And I just thank God that I’m part of this.”
The Nationals have long touted their continuing stable of young talent, a pipeline of elite prospects that has allowed them to withstand the losses of veterans such as Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond in recent years.
But the speed with which these prospects have not only reached the big leagues but actually thrived at the sport’s highest level is quite remarkable.
Soto has now played in 142 major league games and hit 28 homers with 92 RBIs, 30 doubles, a .400 on-base percentage and .912 OPS. Robles has seven homers, 25 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and an .813 OPS in 60 career games. And Kieboom has already homered twice in three games with the Nationals, both of them game-tying homers.
“We support each other, and it gives me a lot more confidence knowing that I have teammates that are just as young as myself,” Robles said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “We support each other very well, and I feel great to be a part of this team.”
The mere fact these guys are even playing together in the majors at such a young age is noteworthy. The last team to have three players 21 or younger in its starting lineup was the 1997 Marlins (a team that went on to win the World Series). The last team to have three players 21 or younger each hit a home run (during the same season, let along the same game) was the 1993 Expos.
“Nothing is written in stone in baseball, so things are meant to be established for the first time or broken,” Robles said. “So I’m very proud that this team, here with us, we were able to do it.”